Sony II: Grouper Relaunch En Route; Sony-MySpace Minisode Network

During the FT interview, chairman and CEO Howard Stringer addressed Sony’s move to create its own short-form video content. Turns out Sony Pictures Television is on the verge of launching its MySpace broadband channel the Minisode Network — not with new content, but with old shows (Diff’rent Strokes, The Partridge Family, etc.) cut to 3-5 minutes. The site will be sponsored by national advertisers. (By one sponsor, says the NYT; see below.)
WSJ: It’s one of Sony’s efforts to avoid solely being a content provider to others and ultimately losing out. SPT president Steve Mosko: “Our content helped build a lot of cable channels. … We’re not going to let the same thing happen on the Web.” One plus to not having its own TV network, says Mosko: Sony doesn’t have to take a network or affiliates into consideration. But Sony also lacks the natural reach the broadcast nets can provide.

Sony isn’t betting it all online: Don’t look for Seinfeldonline — legally — any time soon. Sony is getting $3 billion for syndie rights through 2011 and wants those rights to stay valuable.

NYT: Honda will be the first and sole sponsor when the network launches next week. NYT says episodes of the 15 vitage series will run 4-6 minutes. Honda will run only 8 seconds of ads per episode, all before the show starts: a three-second billboard and a five-second ad for the Honda Fit minicar. The sponsorship is estimated in the six figures.

— Post MySpace exclusivity, Sony will expand the minisodes to other sites — and eventually on mobile devices. Honda gets right of first refusal on additional platforms.

Grouper: Stringer didn’t offer much detail on Grouper, the video sharing site Sony bought last August for $65, but WSJ reports that the site will relaunch next month with a new name, new look, themed channels with exclusive content; new features — the works, including a possible remix option. Sony says Grouper streams about 100 million videos a month.